Choosing the right digital marketing agency is hard. Especially, when there is no really hard and fast way to compare them all.
But there are indications for quality you can look out for. For example, industry and vendor certifications, such as the HubSpot Certifications.
However, beware! You need to understand what each certification stands for in order to determine if this agency is investing in continuous education or if this marketing consultant is just using the certification badge to blow some hot steam (I have read several marketing consultants' About Us Page touting themselves as HubSpot Inbound Certified and making it a huge deal, when in reality everyone and their mom can become Inbound Certified.)
To help you cut to the chase and know, what each certification really stands for, we have compared them for you below:
HubSpot Inbound Certified
This is the most basic certification that HubSpot offers, it is free and open to the public so anyone with an email and website can take it. If you are brand new to Inbound Marketing or want to learn more, this certification is a great way to get started.
This certification has 11 classes that are 35 - 45 minutes each and they cover the four stages of the Inbound Methodology (pictured below). You can get this certification in a weekend if you can dedicate 4-5 hours a day. Otherwise, it will take about two weeks if you do a video a night.
The test is timed and consists of multiple choice questions, and if you pass your certification lasts for 13 months.
After you pass your certification you will get access to your badge, which you can embed on your website, LinkedIn profile, embed in your email signature etc. You also get a certificate, which according to HubSpot you can print out, laminate, and use as a placemat. :-)
However, this is just the first step if you really want to get into Inbound Marketing.
After you are Inbound Certified and you start implementing what you learned, you will want to take the next logical step, which is to sign up for HubSpot's Marketing software. (Give it a spin with a free trial)
As a customer, you are eligible to become HubSpot certified.
The HubSpot Certification is comprised of 17 introductory training classes, each of which is comprised of 2-3 videos, ranging from a few minutes to a half hour. There are also live labs to go with each class, they are optional but beneficial to go to.
The certification is broken into 2 parts, first a multiple choice timed test similar to the Inbound Certification, except harder. Then there is a practicum where you have to complete 11 out of 17 tasks in your portal, like "add keywords" or "add competitors".
The one caveat to the practicum requirements is you have to complete 1 of 2 particular tasks: write 10 blog posts in 45 days or create a super successful landing page with a 100 views and a 20% submission rate.
After you pass you also get a badge and certificate, this certificate you can frame and hang in your office. This certification shows you are more serious about Inbound Marketing because:
- You are paying for the best Inbound Marketing Software in the world
- You are actively using it for your company or a client
- You passed a much harder test
HubSpot Partner Certified
If you are looking to hire an Inbound Marketing agency and you are planning on using HubSpot as your marketing automation platform, you should definitely look into the HubSpot Partner Portal to find a Certified HubSpot Partner Agency. Currently, there are only about 200 Certified Partners worldwide - and 3P Creative Group is proud to be one of them.
To become HubSpot Partner Certified you need the following first
- Be a HubSpot Customer
- Passed the HubSpot Certification
- Purchased Partner Inbound Success Training
- Have successfully mastered the Partner Certification Exam
This training has 10 different topic areas with videos/live classes ranging from 16 to 50 minutes. There are also next steps and additional resources to help you further your studies. This test has 75 questions, 90 minutes, you need 75% to pass, and the difficulty of the questions is dramatically harder than the HubSpot Certification.
Before you take this test you need to literally live in the HubSpot software, know it forwards and backwards. But that is not all, you need to be able to put into practice an Inbound Marketing campaign for yourself and clients. You need to be able to sell your inbound services, as well as your clients.
The training classes will also teach you about growing you agency with new hires, getting more retainer clients, etc. Basically, it teaches you not only advanced Inbound Marketing, but also how to be a better partner agency.
When you get this certificate, you can hang it in your conference room and be really proud of yourself:
All of the above certifications will teach you about Inbound Marketing, but if you are looking for an outside company to run your Inbound Marketing, you will want to make sure that you are partnering with the best possible company. Don't go with someone who just has HubSpot Inbound Certification, because with a couple days work you can get that as well.